Relaxing over the holidays may give you time to reflect on 2013 and think about what you want to achieve in 2014.
If you are like me you will probably make New Year resolutions but struggle to keep them. The sad fact is that most people don’t achieve their resolutions, but I’ve found that with the right strategy you can improve your chances of keeping resolutions.
A few years ago I was having lunch with some school friends and we were discussing how hard it was to lose weight and get fit. Each of us had tried on our own but the results were disappointing. At the end of the lunch we made a promise to each other that we would enter competitive sporting events together and track how much weight we could lose over six months. Importantly, we told all of our other friends about our promise.
In the subsequent months when we got together the fitness challenge was our main topic of conversation and we found that all of our friends were really interested in how we were progressing. Knowing that our progress was being watched closely by our friends spurred us on.
I hate running, but trained for weeks on end and completed the City to Surf. My friends were not swimmers, but all completed the Cole Classic ocean swim race. Every time I considered breaking my diet I saw a mental picture of my friends losing more weight than me and this bolstered my willpower to stick with the diet. Between the four of us we lost over 30kg and we still enter competitive sporting events.
I wondered why we were so successful this time when previously we had failed.
I started to do some research and discovered that the act of recording, tracking and sharing promises or resolutions greatly improves the chances of achieving the goal. This led me to develop www.PromiseLocker.com where anyone can record a resolution and share it with friends online. It also helped me achieve another of my long held resolutions – launch a website.
Through running PromiseLocker I’ve seen a lot of people make their resolutions and achieve them. Here is what I have leant about keeping New Year Resolutions.
1. Start Small
A big goal sounds impressive, but is hard to achieve. Start by setting small goals so you begin to understand how you can best achieve results. Once you have a few successes under your belt and understand your potential, take a step up to a bigger goal.
2. Reward Yourself
We all need help to maintain our motivation. Set your goals so that you can celebrate the small achievements along the way. Short sprints are much more effective and enjoyable than a long, slow slog.
3. Recruit Supporters
Share your success with friends and family so they can congratulate you along the way. Don’t be afraid to let them know if you slip up too! You’ll find that encouragement from others can be really motivating. At the very least, the risk of public failure will improve your dedication. Set up a blog to share your progress or use Facebook or Twitter. Websites like PromiseLocker and apps such as Lift and Everest make it easy to record, track and share your commitments.
4. Plan for Setbacks
Nobody is perfect. Life has a habit of getting in the way of New Year resolutions. Accept this as normal and don’t aim for perfection all of the time. Think in advance what setbacks you may encounter and how you can mitigate them.
5. Check Your Progress
Measuring and recording your progress are all positive steps that will support your achievement. If your progress has been good, it provides positive reinforcement to keep going. If you have fallen behind, take some time to reflect on why and what you can do to improve.
6. Remove Temptation
Think ahead about things that may tempt you to stray from your path and try to get them out of your life, at least for a while. This could include staying away from people who reinforce your bad habits, removing sugary foods from the cupboard or avoiding certain activities.
7. Make it Real
Your New Year’s Resolutions should be based on actions that are obvious. Vowing to get fit or lose weight are quite vague, instead try to commit to walking to work twice per week or not drinking sugary drinks.
8. Manage Your Willpower
You can’t do everything all at once. According to Roy Baumeister from Florida State University your willpower is a finite resource, so ration it for the goals that count and let some other things go. Recent research shows that willpower can be increased with positive attitude. Perhaps achieving some small goals will help you to improve your willpower.